Pain Relief, and Wellness Through VR

Learn how Firsthand Technology is using VR to help reduce pain, relieve stress, and build resilience for hospital patients!

Hello. I'm Howard Rose. I'm the CEO of Firsthand Technology, and we're here at the booth with HP at SIGGRAPH. We're showing our virtual reality applications for pain relief and for general wellness. We've got two applications we're showing. One is called COOL! and one is called GLOW!. And we're really excited to be here. 

Firsthand builds applications to help people with pain. And COOL! And GLOW! are being used in hospitals, like Providence Cancer Center. So imagine if you're in a hospital bed and you're confined to the bed and going through lots of procedures, we can give them VR experiences that help reduce the pain, reduce the anxiety. 

And COOL! and GLOW! are both being used by these patients. And we're really seeing big benefits in terms of pain reduction. Clinical studies show reductions of 60%, 70% of the pain during VR. 

And what's really exciting is that that benefit lasts beyond. When they take the helmet off, we're seeing that benefit last two hours, four hours, sometimes a day later. So we're really excited about the potential of VR to help people through these procedures, reduce the amount of opioids and drugs that they're taking, and really improve the quality of care. 

You know, Firsthand, we've been around in this VR business for over 20 years. We've been involved in a lot of the basic science and medical research that has sort of founded this use of VR for patients. And what we've found is that through clinical studies and looking at fMRI data that we see that there are dramatic changes in the brain that occur when you use VR. 

So if you compare what happens in your brain with VR and without VR, what you see is that when we're subjected to pain and stress without VR, we've got these parts of our brain that are really active, that are related to our body m and our sense of self, and oh my gosh, this really hurts. And we've got all these pain signals flying around. It's basically a hot mess. 

And when you're using VR, what we see is two really cool things. One is that all those pain signals that are going on in your brain, they're a lot quieter. And all of that brain activity shifts to other parts of your brain, like your prefrontal cortex, that are involved in cognition, and resilience, and all these great things. So we see this kind of double benefit for people. 

And what we're doing now is we're taking all of those-- the things that we've learned in these studies out of the lab and we're building these applications. We've got these products in the market now. We're bringing them to hospitals. We're proving that hospitals really will adopt this. And how they will use it, get it into the flow of care. 

So you can find out more about Firsthand at And we have some videos up there and a lot of information about the research, a lot of references. And so if you're interested in that, you can find information at And if you're a hospital, or a doctor, or a health professional, please contact us because we would love to bring this solution out to more people.